The two school-aged children squared up, their expressions deadly serious. One took a mighty swing at the other, who slipped under the blow just in time. In response, the second kid countered with a kick.
This was no random fight or outburst of violence, however. The two boys were not angry, and they weren’t really fighting. They were instead focused on a drill, administered by Jeff Coffey and his team at the G2R Project. Coffey’s company offers self-defense classes at Flex Appeal Fitness on Hudson Street in Columbia.
“Right now, we’re doing children’s programs three days a week, but by mid-August, around the time school starts back, we plan on opening that up five days a week with after-school classes,” Coffey explains. “Hopefully, the buses can drop kids off and they can have something to do, someplace to go instead of just going straight home. They can come to the facility, do homework if they need to, then attend a class. Parents can work out in the gym while their children train with us.”
There are also courses in the works for adults, which will be hosted twice a week.
“We’re opening up a cardio kickboxing class, hosted by Chasity Yarberrry,” Coffey says, “and then we have one of our affiliated coaches from Louisville, a female, and she teaches female street-style self defense and rape prevention.”
Coffey’s trainees these days are less advanced than the individuals he used to work with. Before branching out on his own, he spent almost a decade with a company that conducted high-level training for police and military personnel. When that company dissolved, Coffey saw an opportunity — a financial opportunity.
“As bad as it sounds, I started the G2R Project for the money,” Coffey says. “It was just nice to finally not have to work with budgets that kind of thing.”
Soon, Coffey was approached about offering a modified version of his classes to civilians.
“Ultimately, civilians are the first line of defense,” Coffey explains. “If you’re in an altercation and have to call law enforcement, that’s a great tool to have, but those minutes you have to wait for somebody to arrive can feel like a lifetime. Every second waiting for a first responder is a chance for something bad to happen, so when you look at it like that, civilians need this training just as much or more as law enforcement or military.”
With a new focus and a new company, Coffey soon realized that his courses could be much more than another source of income. Talking to people who took his courses, he heard heartbreaking stories of violence and abuse.
“Once we started and did a couple classes at some colleges, a couple community programs, I started hearing the horror stories,” Coffey recalls. “The things that some people have witnessed or been through made me realize that there was a real need for this training in the communities.”
Coffey says that when his focus shifted from monetary gains to “doing the right things for the right reasons,” his company began to flourish.
“We still do federal contracts and stuff like that, still work with law enforcement and training groups all throughout the country, but we also focus on our community and trying to better prepare people for things they might face,” he says. “Another focus is being a resource to the children in the community, trying to help them expand their growth.”
Coffey’s strategy for building his company has relied on strong relationships stretching all across the United States. He essentially trades out services, having coaches and trainers come to Columbia from all over the country, and he returns the favor, visiting other coaches’ gyms as a guest instructor.
“We’ve had several different groups travel in, fly in to do courses, and we’ve got more set to come in over the next few months and years,” Coffey says. “We’ve got UFC coaches, we’ve got people who have trained special forces, we’ve got people who train church security groups — they all come in to do their classes, and then we go to their facilities and host courses there.”
These affiliations have sent Coffey and his team all over the country. “Boston, Florida, California, and pretty much everywhere in between,” he says.
The G2R Project’s rapid growth has already necessitated an upgrade in facilities — twice. Coffey started in Columbia doing courses and programs at the Jim Blair Center. Before long, the company had moved into its own brick-and-mortar location.
“But after about a year of being there, we kind of outgrew that space too,” Coffey says. “That’s when we started talking to Cody Nolen of Flex Appeal Fitness, and we decided to merge the gym and the training center.”
The partnership with Flex Appeal was the next logical step in achieving Coffey’s loftiest goal.
“We want to create an overall training environment,” he explains. “We want to take south central Kentucky and put it on the map for advanced training tactics. Us being at Flex Appeal allows us to serve civilians as well as law enforcement and first responders.”
While the G2R Project has grown rapidly over the past few years, Coffey insists that the company is just scratching the surface of its future potential.
“I still look at it like we’re on day one,” he says. “It’s just the beginning. I don’t care how much we grow, because I want to keep that drive, and I want that drive behind my coaches and students, too. Every day, we want to strive for something bigger and better.”
Building confidence, perseverance, strength and stamina in the next generation is a motivating factor for Coffey. He says that these qualities, forged through training, “will carry over with them into whatever they end up doing in life.”
“I want this community and the youth that live here to flourish,” Coffey says. “We just want to give them something to do that builds them up and has a positive impact.”
Fortunately for Coffey, he doesn’t have to reach these lofty aspirations all on his own. In addition to the affiliate schools and gyms across the country who send instructors to Columbia, Coffey’s own crew — six deep — boasts a wealth of applicable, firsthand knowledge.
He explains: “We always try to pull people in who have some kind of relevant background, whether they’ve been a self-defense instructor, correctional officer, retired police, retired military, etc., because I want people who have real-world experience to teach real-world tactics.”
Coffey says he is excited for his company’s potential and grateful for the success it has already achieved.
“We’re just very blessed; that’s about all you can say about it,” he says.
For more information about the G2R Project and its courses/classes/trainings, check the company’s Facebook page or visit Flex Appeal Fitness.
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